The Yellow Wallpaper (1899)
Author: Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Translated back to English from Russian translation (translated to Russian by Sergei Trofimov)
From Chapter 3
I lie here on this great immovable bed–it is nailed down, I believe–and follow that pattern about by the hour. It is as good as gymnastics, I assure you. I start, we’ll say, at the bottom, down in the corner over there where it has not been touched, and I determine for the thousandth time that I will follow that pointless pattern to some sort of a conclusion.
I know a little of the principle of design, and I know this thing was not arranged on any laws of radiation, or alternation, or repetition, or symmetry, or anything else that I ever heard of.
It is repeated, of course, by the breadths, but not otherwise.
Looked at in one way each breadth stands alone, the bloated curves and flourishes–a kind of “debased Romanesque” with delirium tremens–go waddling up and down in isolated columns of fatuity.
But, on the other hand, they connect diagonally, and the sprawling outlines run off in great slanting waves of optic horror, like a lot of wallowing seaweeds in full chase.
The whole thing goes horizontally, too, at least it seems so, and I exhaust myself in trying to distinguish the order of its going in that direction.
They have used a horizontal breadth for a frieze, and that adds wonderfully to the confusion.
There is one end of the room where it is almost intact, and there, when the crosslights fade and the low sun shines directly upon it, I can almost fancy radiation after all,–the interminable grotesques seem to form around a common centre and rush off in headlong plunges of equal distraction.
It makes me tired to follow it. I will take a nap I guess.
Re translated text
I lay down for hours on this huge un-liftable bed – it is probably nailed to the floor – and peer at that pattern for hours. I assure you, it’s not too bad for a gymnasium. A usually start from the lower angle, where the hand of the painter did not touch the wallpaper, and for the thousand time I catch myself examining that meaningless pattern again.
I’m weak at understanding compositions of painting, but I know, that this pattern was made against the laws of radiation, alternation and symmetry. The lines are the only ones repeated, nothing more. If I look from one side, every line is standing vertically on its own, swelling with curved lines and curlicues – sort of a “Romanesque style” from delirium tremens. The pattern goes away in brush strokes up and down and dissolves in idiotic tails. But on another side, the stripes are intertwined in a diagonal, the stretched forms run away in oblique waves, like seaweed that was hacked with a screw.
The painting can also be tracked horizontally – at least, that’s how it seemed at first, but I exhausted myself with attempts to determine the order in this direction. They used a horizontal line for the frieze, and this miraculously adds to the confusion. In one edge of the room the yellow wallpaper was almost untouched, and here, when the day was passing away, and the low sun shined directly over it, countless forms would appear in the middle of the wall and hurry to the edges, absorbing into emptiness with the slightest distraction.
Oh god I am so tired from examining this wallpaper. I probably should nap for a little bit.